How To Treat Plantar Warts

December 17, 2023

Plantar warts occur when small growths develop on the heels or the other areas of the feet that bear weight. The pressure might cause the warts to grow inward into the skin rather than on the surface. In these cases, they will develop below a hard callus on the sole of the foot. The majority of warts aren't serious health concerns, and they tend to go away eventually without treatment. If the warts are causing discomfort, pain, or cosmetic concerns, though, there are treatments available. Some over-the-counter treatments can be used for warts, and a doctor may be able to help with their removal as well. Unless the discomfort is severe, patients can usually treat plantar warts at home without needing a prescription or procedure performed by a doctor.

Topical Medication

The majority of plantar warts aren't harmful, and they tend to go away without needing treatment. However, it can be a year or two before the lesion fully disappears. When the warts are spreading or painful, individuals can try treating them with topical medication purchased over-the-counter. One treatment won't often be enough, and patients might need to use the medication repeatedly for them to go away. Some plantar warts will return later, once patients have stopped the medication regimen.

When topical medication isn't enough to remove the warts, it's time for individuals to talk to a doctor. A doctor might give patients a prescription for a medication containing salicylic acid. This ingredient helps remove the wart layer by layer a bit at a time with each treatment. Some of these medications can also stimulate the immune system and make it easier for the patient's body to fight the wart. The majority of treatments are applied regularly at home. The patient's doctor will also likely schedule a follow-up office visit to see how well the medication is working and make plans from there.


Cryotherapy is a type of treatment that uses freezing medication. Since it's a more intensive treatment, it tends to be done in a doctor's office. A medical professional should administer the treatment to make sure it's done safely. During a cryotherapy treatment, the doctor will apply liquid nitrogen to the plantar wart by using a cotton swab or a spray. Liquid nitrogen can be very painful when it comes in contact with the skin, so the doctor may opt to numb the area beforehand.

Liquid nitrogen leads to the formation of a blister around the wart. Within a week after the treatment, the dead tissue will slough off. Like prescription medications, cryotherapy can sometimes stimulate the immune system to help fight warts caused by viruses. The wart might not disappear completely after one treatment, but it will often diminish in size. Some patients need to have repeated treatments at a clinic over every two to four weeks until the wart fully goes away. Combining cryotherapy with salicylic acid might be more effective than cryotherapy alone, but there needs to be more research on this.

Laser Therapy

The first lines of treatment are typically medications and cryotherapy. However, if these treatments don't work, there are other options available, one of which is laser therapy. During a laser therapy treatment, the pulsed-dye laser will cauterize small blood vessels by burning them shut. The burned tissue dies when it doesn't receive a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients from the blood. When the tissue dies, the wart falls off. To use this method, a doctor will need to give patients repeated treatments every three or four weeks. However, this isn't a very popular treatment method.

Though cauterizing wounds can sometimes be effective at getting unwanted tissue to die, the method hasn't been proven highly effective at managing warts. In addition, laser therapy can sometimes cause pain, and the burns can scar. Scarring doesn't tend to be extensive, but it can be noticeable. If individuals are concerned about the pain this treatment might cause, they can use other acids or immune therapy instead.


Curettage is a surgical procedure used to remove wart tissue. During a curettage procedure, the doctor will cut or scrape wart tissue away by using either a scalpel or another sharp tool. This is a surgical procedure that can cause pain and scarring around the area of the plantar wart. To have a curettage procedure done, patients will typically need to have local anesthetic administered. This anesthetic will numb the site of the wart so patients don't feel the pain from the scalpel.

If individuals need to get rid of plantar warts quickly, this is one of the fastest treatments available. However, it's common for the warts to recur, especially if the doctor isn't able to completely remove the tissue. Surgery isn't often used for the treatment of plantar warts unless patients have tried other treatments that have failed. If the wart is causing serious discomfort, and they want it removed as soon as possible, surgery may be an option. However, warts that cause serious pain should be evaluated by a doctor to make sure they aren't a sign of another serious medical condition.

Essential Oils

Essential oils can sometimes treat warts. One very important thing to note, though, is that essential oils must be heavily diluted before they come in contact with the skin. These substances are extremely potent, and they can cause serious damage to the body if they're undiluted. Thus, individuals should never consume them. Neem oil is an essential oil derived from the Indian lilac tree, which is found in the tropics. It has antiviral and antifungal properties that can help with plantar wart treatment. Tea tree oil has also been shown to have antifungal and antiviral properties, plus it also has antibacterial properties. Cinnamon bark oil is an essential oil full of antimicrobial compounds and antioxidants. If individuals use cinnamon oil, they should blend it with a carrier oil or other essential oils first to make sure it doesn't irritate their skin.

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